Why are men loyal to their barbers...but easily cheat on their partners?

A barber shop. 

Photo credit: Pool

What you need to know:

  • One person argues that barbers would take 49.1 per cent, women 0.9 per cent and football 50 per cent.
  • Why are men so loyal to their barbers?

If barbers, women and football were to be put on a man’s loyalty scale, which would measure the highest? 

One person argues that barbers would take 49.1 per cent, women 0.9 per cent and football 50 per cent. Why are men so loyal to their barbers?

I asked a male friend what his barber did for him to earn his loyalty of over 10 years. It’s rather odd that a barber can make a man travel miles just to get a haircut, yet he could reduce the commute by getting the same service from a nearby shaver. 

Some men argue that finding a barber who understands the symmetry of your head is hard. And when you find the one who meets all your expectations, it’s hard for you to let go of them. 

They say when you close your eyes and get your scalp massaged, it is a form of intimacy that is lasting but non-invasive. If you add a dash of chit-chat and friendly neighbourhood news, you have a winner. Barber loyalty is earned.

And this is the kind of loyalty that Kenyan barbers have earned. 

Yusuf Suraj, 43, is a Ghanaian barber, working in Kenya. Four years ago, he relocated to Kenya to continue his work as a high-end barber after doing so in Ghana for over 27 years. Having started his journey in the industry at just the age of 16, Suraj has built himself a wide range of loyal customers.

“My clients range from 16 years old, so I've got to improve my skills while dealing with different textures of hair," he says.

Speaking about his longest-serving customer, Suraj recalled a customer from Ghana who was loyal to him for over 11 years. 

“Even when he travelled he would come back to Ghana with his hair bushy because he did not want anyone else handling his hair,” he says. 

On inspiring loyalty in his customers, Suraj noted that skills and an appealing character are key as they will keep a man coming back for a haircut for years on end. 

“People are different, but one thing I know is that when you receive a customer and you do a good job, they never want to leave you because you have matched their expectations. Shaping the outline and knowing how to handle someone’s head is something a good barber does that leaves a customer hooked. Also, the barber’s personality and character play a huge role when it comes to a customer staying loyal to one barber. You can have good skills as a barber but if your character is unpleasant then definitely a customer may not be loyal,” he said.

Elijah Githugo, 25, shares his experience with his barber of over six years. 

“I first met my barber in 2016. This was a few months after finishing high school and I had not shaved in a long time. I went to a nearby mall and discovered a relatively new barbershop/hair studio with unique posters and a decent environment. The owner was a fairly young-looking man, well groomed, and very welcoming. He introduced himself to me and I explained that I needed a very good taper fade, provided detailed instructions and he got the image that fit my exact description and recommended how I could customise it to make it unique to me.”

“I approved of the look, and as he prepared his clipper and wrapped the shaving gown around me, he struck up a conversation with me about my thoughts on the current state of the world, what my personal views were and how I feel about life and where I was and how I expect things to grow and change.

This led to deeper subtopics and he shared his views which were very interesting. I was engaged in the conversation. I forgot I was getting the haircut and he was done soon after. It was the most precise haircut I've ever gotten and I was pleased,” Elijah says.

“On my way home, every head was turning because of how crisp the haircut was. I couldn't believe it had that effect. I have never looked back since, and every time I go back, his skills are even sharper. I believe he is the only one who can handle my mane. His interpersonal skills are also amazing.” 

Does he equate loyalty to a barber to the complexities of romantic relationships?

“I think loyalty to your barber does relate to the complexities of human emotions in that you have to choose what you feel is best for you and fully commit to your choice and not compare it to others as a measure. Choosing a barber and choosing a romantic partner requires a lot of commitment.

It might be a different equation, but the ingredients are the same. There are many barbershops you will pass through before getting your preferred choice. There are many men and women you'll see despite having a partner. When you stick to your partner, and remain loyal to them, it is a measure of how committed you are to the choice you made in picking someone who not only understands you but always gives you their best,” Elijah says.

“I do not think a haircut is a just haircut. There is a potential for something to always turn out wrong, especially if they do not know you or do not expect to see you again. It shows a lack of commitment to have someone who can offer you excellent service with every visit because their service is like an art form to them. The more they know you, they more they expertly express your identity,” he adds.

Elijah says when it comes to romantic relationships, your partner isn't just a person you love. It's someone you commit all to. It's someone you are willing to go through thick and thin for. It's someone you'd never hesitate to support whenever you can. There are better people than them, there are better people than yourself. But that is only superficial. The more you know about each other and commit to growing together, it becomes magical.”

“When you lack commitment, it brews a potential for infidelity. You cannot commit to one thing but you want a taste of everything else and it will never amount to anything. You will mislead someone into something you are not willing to sustain. And things will turn out ugly, just like a bad haircut.”

George Njuguna, 33, believes the intricate nature of cheating on a romantic partner is far more complex than that of cheating on a barber. He also shares that being disloyal to a barber is far riskier than being disloyal to a romantic partner. 

“Male loyalty is different from female loyalty. When men cheat, they are not as emotionally inclined as women, when you find a man cheating it's mostly physical rather than emotional. Just looking for a quick fix. Looking at the loyalty to a barber, cheating is risky because you don't know how they handle hair and they can easily mess you up. Unlike cheating on your girl, being disloyal to your barber can cost you quite a lot,” said Njuguna.  

“There's a certain understanding barbers have. They know the shape of your head and understand how to trim your hair to your liking, and they have a knack for your hair type and know the techniques that work,” he adds.